EBSA Achieves Over $1.2 Billion in Total Monetary Results in Fiscal Year 2012
Through its enforcement of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the private employee benefit plan system in the United States. EBSA's oversight authority extends to nearly 707,000 retirement plans, approximately 2.3 million health plans, and a similar number of other welfare benefit plans, such as those providing life or disability insurance. These plans cover about 141 million workers and their dependents and include assets of over $7.1 trillion (as of March 31, 2013). Monetary results for FY 2012 were $1.27 billion.
- Total results – $1.27 billion
- Prohibited transactions corrected/plan assets protected – $911.7 million
- Plan assets restored/participant benefits recovered – $188.0 million
- Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program – $12.2 million
Civil Investigation Statistics Demonstrate Success in Targeting
In FY 2012, EBSA closed 3,566 civil investigations, with 2,570 (72.1%) resulting in monetary results for plans or other corrective action.
EBSA often pursues voluntary compliance as a means to correct violations and restore losses to employee benefit plans. However, in cases where voluntary compliance efforts have failed, or which involve issues for which voluntary compliance is not appropriate, EBSA forwards a recommendation to the Solicitor of Labor that litigation be initiated. In FY 2012, 218 cases were referred for litigation. Together, EBSA and the Solicitor of Labor determine which cases are appropriate for litigation, considering the ability to obtain meaningful relief through litigation, cost of litigation, viability of other enforcement options, and agency enforcement priorities. EBSA cases referred to the Solicitor's office for litigation are often resolved, with monetary payments, short of litigation. Nationwide in FY 2012, litigation was filed in 100 civil cases.
- Civil investigations closed – 3,566
- Civil investigations closed with results – 2,570
- Percent civil investigations closed with results – 72.1%
- Civil investigations referred for litigation – 218
- Civil cases with litigation filed – 100
EBSA Investigations Led To The Indictment Of 117 Persons For Crimes Related To Employee Benefit Plans in FY 2012
EBSA has responsibility to investigate potential violations of the criminal provisions of ERISA and those provisions of Title 18 of the United States Code that relate to employee benefit plans. EBSA conducts most of its criminal investigations under the direction of the United States Attorney for the jurisdiction. Other investigations are conducted in consultation with the appropriate state or local law enforcement authority. Criminal investigations are often conducted jointly with other federal and state law enforcement agencies.
In FY 2012, EBSA closed 318 criminal investigations. EBSA's criminal investigations, as well as its participation in criminal investigations with other law enforcement agencies, led to the indictment of 117 individuals – including plan officials, corporate officers, and service providers – for offenses related to employee benefit plans.
- Criminal investigations closed – 318
- Criminal investigations closed with guilty pleas or convictions – 78
- Number of individuals indicted – 117
Compliance Assistance Programs Yielded Tremendous Results
EBSA's Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (VFCP) and Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program (DFVCP) encourage the correction of violations of ERISA by providing significant incentives for fiduciaries and others to self-correct.
The VFCP allows plan officials who have identified certain violations of ERISA to take corrective action to remedy the breaches and voluntarily report the violations to EBSA, without becoming the subject of an enforcement action. In FY 2012, EBSA received 1,884 applications for the VFCP.
The DFVCP encourages plan administrators to bring their plans into compliance with ERISA's filing requirements. More than 23,000 annual reports were received through this program in FY 2012.
- VFCP applications received – 1,884
- DFVCP filings received – 23,560
$260.7 Million Restored to Workers Through Informal Complaint Resolution
When workers experience a problem with an employee benefit plan, EBSA has proven effective in resolving their requests for assistance. In FY 2012, EBSA's Benefits Advisors closed nearly 240,000 inquiries and recovered $260.7 million in benefits on behalf of workers and their families through informal resolution of individual complaints. Many of the inquiries were received via EBSA's toll-free number 1-866-444-EBSA (3272) and Web site www.askebsa.dol.gov.
These inquiries are also a major source of enforcement leads. When EBSA becomes aware of repeated complaints with respect to a particular plan, employer, or service provider, or when there is information indicating a suspected fiduciary breach, the matter is referred for investigation. In FY 2012, 814 new investigations were opened as a result of referrals from Benefits Advisors.
- Total inquiries – 239,520
- Monetary benefit recoveries from informal complaint resolution – $260.7 million
- Investigations opened from inquiry referrals – 814
More Than 2,000 Education And Outreach Events Held In FY 2012
EBSA also conducts education and outreach events for workers, employers, plan officials and members of Congress. These nationwide activities include assisting dislocated workers who are facing job loss, educating employers of their obligations under ERISA, using a train-the-trainer format to inform Congressional staff of EBSA programs for their use in constituent services, and providing employees with information concerning their rights under the law.
- Dislocated worker rapid response sessions – 891
- Congressional briefings – 270
- Compliance assistance activities – 421
- Other participant assistance and public awareness activities – 497
- Total outreach events – 2,079
Extensive Publication And Web Site Usage Furthers Outreach Efforts
EBSA also reaches workers, retirees, employers, plan service providers, and the public through its printed materials and website www.dol.gov/ebsa. English and Spanish language publications featuring participant and compliance assistance information are available through EBSA's toll-free number. Publications are also available electronically on our website, which includes consumer information, relevant laws and regulations, technical guidance, seminar schedules, and other valuable resources.
- Publications distributed – 506,445
- Web site visitors – 5.85 million
Overall, EBSA's results demonstrate a strong, fair, and effective program that protects the benefits of America's workers and retirees.
This fact sheet has been developed by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Washington, DC 20210. It will be made available in alternate format upon request: Voice telephone: 202-693-8664; TTY: 202-501-3911. In addition, the information in this fact sheet constitutes a small entity compliance guide for purposes of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.